Traveling with toddlers and preschoolers is always tricky. Traveling to Disneyland with that same group is no joke. We recently got back from Disneyland California and after a few days of taking in the entire Disney experience, I’ve come up with the top 10 tips for visiting Disneyland with toddlers and preschoolers.
California is a decent flight from Montreal, so our tips aren’t just practical from visiting the park perspective, it’s also from a traveling out of town perspective too. Here are my top 10 tips for visiting Disneyland with toddlers and preschoolers.
10 tips for visiting Disneyland with toddlers and preschoolers
- Stay at a Hotel Close to the Parks
We stayed at the Howard Johnson Anaheim which was very close to the parks (5-7min walk) which had very family friendly amenities like washer/dryers, bunk beds, fridge and microwaves in the rooms and a splash pad and water park. Being close also means respecting the nap.
And trust me… everyone including mom and dad need a nap. We loved being able to walk back, having a good nap and enjoying a few extra hours in the late afternoon back at the park.
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- Rent a Double Stroller
Trust me Disneyland = a LOT of walking… and we walked about 16KM a day.. so yeah even a 5 year old needs a stroller!
We rented a double stroller from Traveling Baby Company which was a lifesaver! We booked our stroller online without any issues and they delivered it right to our hotel! We rented the City Mini GT Double Stroller which had a lot of room for our very tall children (I was a bit worried about my 5 year old fitting in a stroller still, but he loved it).
AND the stroller fit within Disneyland’s new stroller guidelines. In fact, every stroller that Traveling Baby rents fits within the new guidelines, so you can rent your stroller with ease!
- Get Groceries Delivered
This didn’t just save money, it also saved us a lot of time. We ordered our groceries via Instacart and had snacks like fruits and veggies delivered right to our hotel. As we had a fridge in our room at the Howard Johnson Anaheim, we were able to store milk and other perishable foods in our room. The kids loved having cereal every morning before heading out. (And I also appreciated the milk in my coffee each morning too).
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- Pack For Snacks
My above tip mentioned getting groceries delivered – however how you make the most of those groceries is by brining a few things from home to help make excellent and healthy snacks! I brought a few extra zip lock backs, a small cerated knife, reusable bowls and spoons, as well as a small amount of dish soap and a sponge. This made it super easy to cut up the cucumber and bring it to the park in a zip lock. It was also great for cereal or oatmeal every morning in the reusable bowls. And I was able to wash everything up including our water bottles AND bowls and knives. It literally took no extra room in out suite cases and most likely saved us over $100 being able to take care of breakfast and snacks all from a grocery delivery.
- Get a MaxPass
You may think that MaxPass (the Disneyland version of the Fast Pass at Disney World) is really only for the bigger rides that the little ones can’t go on. You’d be wrong. There were a good amount of rides that we booked on the MaxPass for the entire family and it saved us so much time. We’d also do a lot of divide and conquering in terms of letting 1 of the adults get on the “big ride” while the other was on a family focused ride. Bonus is that the MaxPass also includes access to any photos taken on a ride as well as taken by a Disneyland Photographer.
More Tips for Visiting Disneyland With Toddlers and Preschoolers Which Are Almost Unknown.
- Have a detailed Plan for Each Day at the Park
This was a key to our success at the park and how we were able to get in around 8 rides before 11am on most days. We knew which rides book quickly at each park, and we either booked our rides on the MaxPass or if a MaxPass wasn’t available, we’d head over to that ride first.
Your plan should also include exactly where you want to eat… that way you won’t spend 20 minutes trying to figure that out.
- Speaking about Max Pass – Buddy Pass and Rider Switch is the Best Thing Ever.
So what is the Buddy Pass? Great Question… I’m not entirely clear, however it’s a ticket given at the exit by a cast member to a group that would only take up 1 ride car (2 adults + 1 little kid, or Single Rider, or 1 Adult 2 little kids). How you get it is by going to the exit of a ride and asking the cast member for the Buddy Pass. If your group is eligible, you’ll enter via the exit with the pass and get on a ride very quickly. I did the ride with my two little guys and the current stand by line was 25 min… we got on the ride in 3 min.
Only Monsters Inc. Mike and Sulley to the Rescue ride and apparently Toy Story Mania offer this pass (both located in the Disney California Adventure Park).
Rider Switch Pass. It’s great for the big rides that all of us big kids at heart want to do… but of course we can’t leave our kids behind. So adults take turn taking the rides without having to wait in long lines two times. How to get a rider switch: Simply ask the cast member when entering a ride for a Rider Switch Pass and you’ll get a ticket where another adult can use that ticket and enter the line via the fast pass line essentially skipping that long line up. So you’re only ever waiting once in a long line, and the second adult gets to skip the line all together (or have a minimal wait).
- Go Early, like REALLY Early!
This I can not stress enough. The park is very busy in the afternoon to the evening. Being at the park about 15 minutes before the park actually opens will almost guarantee you’ll get all the rides you want. Plus no crowds… which actually is a huge bonus.
- Stock up on Dollar Store Toys before you go
The toys at Disneyland are expensive (especially if you’re Canadian and adding that extra 30%). I picked up a bunch of Disney themed toys to keep the kids very happy. There was a froze glow stick wand thing, an incredibles magic marker book, and even some Mickey tattoos. Anything and everything is a distraction from that $50 toy at the many kiosks you walk buy!
- If You see a Character… Run as fast as you can to grab a spot!!
Seriously we snagged photos with all kinds of characters as they weren’t super obvious and the lines were only a few people deep. Mickey will always be a huge lineup, but some b-list characters like Pluto, Hook and even Black Panther were hardly a wait at all. (I’m talking 5 minutes max).
I hope that any of my Top 10 Tips for Visiting Disneyland With Toddlers and Preschoolers helped you at least a little bit. Thanks for reading and ENJOY DISNEYLAND!